Earlier this month I entered a contest for a logo for Haisla Homecoming. One of the requirements was that it had to include the four Haisla clans of Beaver, Eagle, Killer Whale and Raven. I knew I wanted to enter this contest but was a little hesitant because logos with the four clans are very common and it’s difficult to create something unique and original using those four crests.
So I took it as a personal challenge: create a design using the four clans and make it like nothing that I’ve ever done or seen before. With that in mind I began designing. I had a couple of sketches that I’d worked out before and were never finalized. One in particular caught my attention and I thought of ways I could change the design but it just didn’t seem to work for me. The shape itself was appealing and while the original drawing wasn’t going to be of use to me, it did make me think of a copper shield. I went back the drawing board and decided to create an entirely new design to fit in the shape of a copper.
I played around with different arrangements and the top half of the shield seemed right for the Eagle and Raven so I roughed out the designs for those two crests. I wanted the design to be somewhat symmetrical on both sides but I didn’t want to make them both exactly the same.
To the left, you can see a close-up of the Eagle. Although this appears in the upper left hand side of the copper shield, I based it on the Raven crest, which I designed first. One of beauties of computer graphic design is that you can take a design and flip it around then change parts of it. So here you can see that the Eagle has an ear that’s filled in and attached to the top of its head. The beak is filled in with a U-form and split-U facing sideways with an ovoid also facing sideways.
Here you can see the Raven, it shares many design elements with the Eagle but it has subtle differences that set it apart. The beak is filled in with a split-U facing up instead of sideways like the Eagle’s beak. This was done to create a different look while still keeping the outline of the Eagle’s body. The biggest difference, as you can see, is the lack of an ear. Raven designs generally don’t have ears included, so I stayed with that tradition.
This presented a problem, though, as I added another element above the two bird crests. You can see the result below:
Not putting an ear on the Raven leaves an empty space directly above his head. What do I do with that extra space? In the spirit of experimentation that I’d adopted before I started designing, I reached the following conclusion: I could use the U-form and split-U that makes up the Eagle’s ear and put it on the Raven but leave it empty. In this way, I keep the symmetry and fill up the space in a way that maintains balance in the design. You can see the result below:
So now that the top half of the copper shield was done, it was time to tackle the bottom half. I took the same basic approach: designing one crest, reversing it and changing internal elements.
I designed the Beaver first, which you can see to the left. It’s broken down into very basic elements: a head and a tail. This was done for the purpose of fitting it in the confined space and also keeping consistency with the Eagle and Raven crests. The tail contains a split-U with cross-hatching, this is typical of any beaver design. A beaver crest also includes large incisor teeth, which I included in my arrangement. Much like the Eagle and Raven situation, I ran into a problem with the ear: Beavers are usually shown with one but Killer Whales are not. To solve this problem, I incorporated the same solution, as you can see below.
Instead of attaching the ear elements directly to the Killer Whale’s head, I left it as an outline. This way, it’s part of the overall design but not a part of the Killer Whale itself. It’s there, but it’s not there. I also made a change in the Killer Whale’s nose to make it different from the Beaver. I added a circle separator instead of a split-U shape to separate the curving formline of the nose from the rest of the head. You’ll notice the teeth are different, too. While Killer Whales are sometimes shown with teeth, they don’t have big front teeth like the Beaver does, so I re-designed the teeth to make them all the same size.
Having all of the sections of the copper shield filled in, it was time to add the T-shape that always separates traditional coppers into three parts. The T, I feel, can also stand for tradition. The completed design is shown below:
The top part of the design above the Eagle’s and Raven’s heads represents the sun and completes the overall composition. I was satisfied with the design, I took some chances with it and experimented. I tried to stay within the common practices of traditional Northwest Coast Native design but I also allowed for some innovative techniques, solving design problems in a way I wouldn’t normally incorporate.
With the design complete, it was then time to submit my entry and a couple of weeks later, it was announced that my design was chosen as the new logo.
Thank you to Haisla Homecoming Committee and everyone involved for deciding to use my logo to represent the event. It’s an honor to have been chosen and I look forward to seeing the design put to good use.